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Daytona Beach


Physical Sciences

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Short-period gravity waves are ubiquitous in the mesosphere, but the vertical structures of their perturbations are difficult to observe. The Jicamarca 50-MHz very high frequency radar allows observations of winds and turbulent scatter with high temporal and vertical resolution. We present a case of a quasi-monochromatic gravity wave with period 520 (±40) s that is likely ducted below a southward wind jet between 68 and 74 km. Above this layer of evanescence, a northward wind enables it to emerge into a more stable layer, where it is refracted to a short vertical wavelength of 2.2 (±0.2) km; data show evidence of weak nonlinearity, and possible overturning or partial reflection from higher altitudes, above the observable region, in the form of a standing wave structure in vertical velocity at approximately 75 km. Based on the dispersion relation, and with help of a two-dimensional model, we determine that most likely the wave is propagating northward and is being ducted below and tunneling through the regions of evanescence created by the wind flow and typical mesospheric thermal structure. This is the first time that such an event has been identified in the Jicamarca mesospheric echoes, and it is distinct from Kelvin-Helmholtz billows also commonly seen with this sensitive radar—instead apparently revealing tunneling of the gravity wave through ambient winds.

Publication Title

Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres



American Geophysical Union